• skeptonomist commented on the blog post Camera Work: The Suspension of Belief

    2015-01-18 10:45:50View | Delete

    What is it eating?

  • skeptonomist commented on the blog post Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Death Penalty Trial Started Today

    2015-01-05 16:04:36View | Delete

    If you have a death penalty, then Tsarnaev is presumably someone who should get it, if the accusations are true. To spend months quibbling about psychological factors, with lawyers trying to press jurors’ emotional buttons, is not going to result in a “just” verdict however it’s done. In real life the death penalty is usually arbitrary and capricious, not justice.

  • skeptonomist commented on the blog post Meaningless Human Life in Neoliberal America

    2014-12-07 11:31:13View | Delete

    At this point another major crash might be beneficial. There does not seem to be much prospect of change before that. But anything could happen then. Those who want change should probably be thinking about what action to take at that time.

  • Basic Medicare is simple and people are satisfied with it. It is actually not too difficult to satisfy the customers. It’s when you try to accommodate the insurance companies that you get complexities. Other countries keep costs down by specifying compensation for health-care providers by (usually) negotiation. Quality does not suffer. Most providers go along and most in the US go along with Medicare (although rates are higher than in other countries).

  • skeptonomist commented on the diary post Over Easy: Transcripts show #DarrenWilson Lied to the Grand Jury by Masoninblue.

    2014-11-26 12:19:58View | Delete

    A jury in a real trial has to be unanimous, which makes it very unlikely that Wilson would have been convicted if he had actually been indicted. So the same testimony would have been heard, drawn out over probably even longer, with an actual defense attorney making probably even more misleading arguments. Juries usually acquit [...]

  • Nothing is going to prevent Republicans from passing fake bills which claim to accomplish all those other things – it’s not like their schedule is overly crowded or will be just because of immigration. So maybe they only rescind Obamacare half-a-dozen times instead of 40 or 50 – will that make a big difference?

    Obama’s action on immigration is not going to be a major hindrance to Republicans. In fact it’s just another thing they can use to rile the base. Actually there are considerable numbers of independents and even Democrats who are opposed to any aspect of immigration, so while the action may be the right thing and will please latinos, it will not necessarily be an overall political winner.

  • skeptonomist commented on the blog post Obama Doesn’t Need to Care What People Think

    2014-11-20 10:47:18View | Delete

    Is Obama not supposed to care about his party or its objectives? People blame the President for a bad economy or bad international situation regardless of what he has actually done, and his party suffers as well. If Obama is viewed as overreaching on immigration, this will probably mean less support for Democrats in Congress. The polls show most people want Obama to wait. If he waits until January or February and Congress does not act it will be more obvious that Republicans is responsible for holding up reform (most people favor the bill).

    The last sentence makes no sense. People just don’t remember, period. Their attitude is based mostly on the current situation. If the economy improves, people will think well of Obama, but if it worsens we may get a Republican President.

  • skeptonomist commented on the diary post My experience applying to ACA in Texas by Crane-Station.

    2014-11-15 15:36:02View | Delete

    People who can use computers should check out the insurance situation before moving (although this is so complicated it can take days to find out what’s available in any state). Of course many low-income people don’t have computers, and natives who don’t want to move are stuck with what their state offers. What kind of [...]

  • Things don’t always go according to plan. People may not like to change insurance, but often do so anyway. Have all the people who said they won’t be changing seen the rates for next year? If their policy goes up significantly then they will probably look for a new policy. The rate of change is something that can’t be determined from questionnaires, it will have to be determined from actual data after enrollment for the second year is complete.

  • skeptonomist commented on the blog post The Math Skills Lacking Among the Uninsured

    2014-10-29 14:37:38View | Delete

    No, nobody, even math professors, is actually going to calculate all that stuff. The “yearly probability of a serious accident or illness” is certainly not going to go into it. Actually you don’t have enough real choices on the exchanges to be able to make any elaborate calculation worthwhile. Most people will just opt for the cheapest plan, or they may choose on the basis of deductible or other simple features.

    And because the choices are limited and simple, the “whole foundation” doesn’t rely on people making some critical choice based on calculations. The one calculation that will probably decide whether many people accept a plan and whether they will be able to keep it is whether they will be able to maintain the premium payments. This will depend on other things beside health care, for example car and housing expenses and other things which take up even more of a low-income budget than health-care insurance.

  • skeptonomist commented on the blog post GA Sen: Democrat Michelle Nunn Has Narrow Lead

    2014-10-24 10:50:03View | Delete

    If Nunn does not get over 50% that is almost certainly a loss even if she gets more votes than Perdue. There would be a runoff, in which most of the third candidate’s vote would go to Perdue. I suspect that runoff turnouts would be even lower than the main election (anybody have numbers on this?).

    Nunn and Perdue have not really been statistically distinguishable in the polls so a little change one way or another is not meaningful.

  • skeptonomist commented on the diary post Postcapitalist economic imagination by cassiodorus.

    2014-10-05 10:07:15View | Delete

    The earth can’t support unlimited human population growth. There is no law of economics or of nature either that says that population will stabilize at some value which will preserve a given standard of living. Even ignoring global warming humans will reach the end of resources if some action is not taken to curb population [...]

  • I was thinking Fortas was filibustered, but actually there have never been any.

  • How many filibusters of Supreme Court nominees have there been for real political reasons? Bork was denied on a straight vote with six Republicans voting against him. Otherwise there were non-ideological flaws with filibustered nominations. A filibuster for political reasons can’t be ruled out, but it is not a foregone conclusion – it would set a precedent. Would Republicans count on having a 60-vote majority when it comes time for one of their justices to be replaced? They don’t really need another justice now anyway.

    Not that lifetime tenure isn’t a bad idea for several reasons.

  • skeptonomist commented on the blog post Borrow From the Rich for Wars That Benefit the Rich

    2014-09-21 14:28:48View | Delete

    It took a long time for Britain’s debt to come down after the Napoleonic wars, but the reduction was very quick after WW II. The labour government was in charge, and actually taxed wealth in addition to income. It was similar in the US, as income was taxed at very progressive rates, over 90% most of the time for the top bracket until 1964. This didn’t bring about a socialistic paradise in Britain – the country was faced with the loss of its vast empire which had made it the richest country in the 19th century. But none of the predictions of conservatives came true – there was excellent economy growth, especially in the US. Of course this experience has been ignored by economists, not just the avowed conservative ones.

  • skeptonomist commented on the blog post The End of the Conservative Democrat

    2014-09-20 06:56:20View | Delete

    Before the civil rights movement, there were two branches to the Democratic party, the southern one which was dedicated above all to maintaining white supremacy, and the northern one, which was racially and religiously more liberal. But both wings were more or less progressive and populistic economically – many of the leading figures in the New Deal were southerners (e.g. Glass and Steagall). When the southern racists moved over into the Republican party, they largely abandoned their own economic self-interests and supported those of the industrialist and plutocratic Republicans. So now it is the Republican party which has two wings, plutocratic and working-class. The latter, which make up the rank-and-file of the Tea Party, are somewhat confused about what they really want, and this is why there is a conflict in the party now. If the 99% are going to halt the growth of inequality, this situation will have to be changed – they are now split between the parties, mainly because of racism.

  • No doubt the Scots were encouraged to try to found a colony in Panama by the exploits of Henry Morgan, who in fact took flotillas of ships into the heart of the Spanish Empire and sacked major cities several times, in Panama and Venezuela. This buccaneering was encouraged by the English government (Morgan was knighted and made lieutenant governor of Jamaica) but the policy changed toward the end of the century. So maybe the policy changes gave the Scots further grounds to resent the English.

  • skeptonomist commented on the blog post John Kerry Tries to Claim a War Isn’t a War

    2014-09-11 14:32:29View | Delete

    No, ISIS is not primarily a terrorist organization like Al-Qaeda, it is a full-fledged revolutionary faction with armies that occupy large territories and (apparently) an operating government. To defeat it requires real war, and somebody is going to have to have troops on the ground to re-occupy territory, or at least protect the vital areas that ISIS has not already taken. The question for the US is where the troops on the ground will come from, as there is little support for sending US troops back in. It is not obvious that the forces exist to completely overthrow ISIS, so we seem to be heading for a perpetual Orwellian war of bombing and droning against the new Sunni state.

  • skeptonomist commented on the blog post Our Unrepresentative House Is a Problem Easily Solved

    2014-09-08 14:07:42View | Delete

    There’s no particular incentive for the party in power to be fair. If Democrats get control in a state, it would be fairly easy for them to gerrymander districts to maximize their votes – you would see districts with a sliver in cities and just little enough of suburbs to keep a small Democratic majority, and huge suburban/rural districts containing strong Republican majorities. But as some people have pointed out, there is resistance to splitting up cities and other areas by locals. City machines want to maximize their majorities and power – politicians’ first concern is to keep themselves in office- they don’t want to go to any new schemes. In other countries the states or provinces and cities don’t have as much power as in the US – less federalism.

  • skeptonomist commented on the blog post AFRICOM Conducts Operation In Somalia

    2014-09-02 13:52:45View | Delete

    So drones are not military? Or has Djibouti, where there is a large drone base, been moved out of Africa?

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